2 Arrested in Protest Against Woodfin, NC Power Plant

Burning Oil Ain’t Progress

Two members of Rising Tide North Carolina just occupied a billboard with an enormous banner denouncing the plant, and got arrested in the process. They are out of jail now, but we need to raise $800 to pay people back for bond, plus more for other legal fees. Please donate!

2 Arrested in Protest Against Woodfin, NC Power Plant

February 6, 2007

Local residents braved the frigid cold this morning perched atop a billboard, to protest Progress Energy’s proposed oil fired plant.They have unfurled an enormous banner reading, “Burning Oil Ain’t Progress – No New Power Plant in Woodfin!�? The residents are part of Rising Tide North America, a group dedicated to fighting the root causes of climate change. The protest lasted over three hours until local police and fire department forced them down.

“Western North Carolina is already suffering from some of the worst air pollution in the country. By building an oil burning plant that we don’t even really need, Progress is choosing to endanger our health for the sake of profit instead of making the necessary investments in energy conservation and clean energy.�? said Micah Lee, a life-long Asheville resident who was perched atop the billboard.

According the Environmental Protection Agency, pollution from power plants in North Carolina is responsible for 1,000 premature deaths each year. Progress Energy’s proposed 130 MW oil power plant is projected to emit 247 tons of smog forming nitrogen oxide, 2.4 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 97 tons of lung damaging particulate matter each year. This would put Progress’ plant among the top 5 polluters in Buncombe County. Even these statistics are optimistic, based on Progress’ projection that the plant will only run 10 percent of the time. A recent Wall Street Journal report found that such “peak�? power plants often run up to 80 percent of the time, greatly increasing emissions.

In addition to the immediate health concerns caused by the power plant, the activists hope to bring attention to the devastating impacts of climate change, to which this plant would only contribute. “Given the increases in droughts, hurricanes, and massive species extinction that we are already experiencing as a result of climate change, burning oil for electricity is totally insane. In the face of total government inaction, regular people need to take action to transition our society away from fossil fuels,�? said Abigail Singer from her perch atop the billboard.

The scientific consensus is that we need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by the year 2050 to avert the worst case scenarios of climate change. By building a new oil plant at this critical juncture, Progress Energy would be taking us further down the road of fossil fuel dependence at a time when we need to drastically reduce our consumption. According to EPA statistics oil fired power plants emit on average1672 lbs of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.

The protest ended when police placed the protestors under arrest and forced them down from the billboard. Rising Tide will keep the pressure on corporate and political officials until the power plant is scrapped, since the energy needs it would meet could easily be met through conservation measures. “It is my generation that is going to have to live with the devastating impacts of climate change caused by power plants such as Progress Energy’s. It is totally irresponsible and insulting that they are willing to gamble away our future when clean alternatives exist, said Lee.

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